A complex of buildings now forms the Al Faya Lodge, which sits in the red sands at the foot of Mount Alvaah in the Emirate of Sharjah.
The pair of stone buildings originally built half a century ago, which once housed a cafe and a grocery shop, have been adapted to become a five-room boutique hotel.
Over the road a new building houses a saltwater spa complete with an open air swimming pool.
Anarchitect used the striking rust colour of weathered steel to highlight the interventions in the old stone buildings.
This coloured metal was also chosen to echo the rich deposits of iron ore in the area, which is close to one of the first oil wells built in the United Arab Emirates.
“Desert conditions present extreme heat in summer with intense and prolonged sun exposure so it is important to consider these factors when first designing the form and mass of the building,” explained Jonathan Ashmore, founder and principal of Anarchitect, which has offices in Dubai and London.
“The selection of suitable and robust materials [goes] hand in hand. Desert sites are exposed to all the elements and not just sunlight. The elements also include driving rain, sand storms and low-temperatures at night.”
Locally sourced concrete and stone were used to build the new structures for the hotel complex. Terraced decks are raised above the level of the sand, with over-sailing roofs and screens providing shade from the hot desert sun.
Polished concrete, granite and travertine were used for durability, while hardwood and plastered-render were chosen as materials that would weather attractively in the extreme climate.
Each room in the Al Faya Lodge has its own star-gazing skylight, and the master suite has its own private roof terrace. The hotel is designed to be booked in out in its entirety so guests can enjoy the spa and pool in private.
The hotel also has a reception area, a dining room, and an outdoor terrace with a fire pit.
Dramatic desert landscapes with open skies and harsh climates have inspired many contemporary architects to design strong forms that make use of local materials.
Barclay & Crousse used local stone and reddish cement for a clifftop villa that blends in with the Peruvian desert, and The Ranch Mine built a house in the Arizona desert that pays homage to the work of artist Georgia O’Keefe.
Photography is by Fernando Guerra.
Furniture procurement: H&H
Spa consultant: The Wellness
Contractor: Alba Tower & Obaid Al Abdi
Joinery: Thomas & McQuaid
Bespoke interior furniture: Anarchitect
Outdoor chairs: RODA
Sanitary ware: Kohler
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